For an artist, their work evades the bounds of the comprehensible, the acceptable, and oftentimes, the likeable. Their expression, courageously authentic, does not live to seek external validation but exists to immortalise their stories, experiences, and muses. A medium of choice—clay, metal, glass—becomes a blank slate for the creatives to narrate a story, later transforming into a script for viewers to interpret in their own unique ways. The visceral ties between humans and nature elicit many such artistic manifestations—Sandra Keja-Planken unveils one such collection as an ode to the sea. "I need the sea because it teaches me the best I can be," the Dutch artist relays.
On the occasion of the upcoming design festival, Dutch Design Week 2023, Studio Noun, the multidisciplinary and autonomous studio helmed by Keja-Planken will present Ode al Mar. Based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the self-taught designer and artist is known for her seemingly dynamic designs, art, collectible objects and bold interior designs. Her fascination with nature and storytelling finds home within her collectibles—a propensity that breathes life into her latest collection as well. Her new ‘Heart of Glass’ vessels, pendants meshing textiles and glass, as well as the ocean and sea grass-inspired tapestry, are redolent of natural forms and a landscape blooming at the bottom of the sea. The ensemble will be presented as a part of MESSMERIZING, a show by Nomad gallery at the design event taking place from October 21 - 29, 2023.
Keja-Planken’s oeuvre revolves around the relationship between people, nature, as well as the nature of humans. Following several years of experience as an interior designer, she forayed into the sphere of product designs and art. She translates her emotions and messages into wall hangings and objects that invite the onlooker to partake in her fascination. Anthropomorphic and colour pop features collide with abstract forms and the human psyche, cultivating vibrant and evocative compositions. Each object is emblematic of a unique emotion and story. For her glass and textile art, she collaborates with the TextielMuseum and Glass Museum. She also processes residual pieces of wood and recycled concrete into one-off pieces.
The Dutch designer’s creations relax the mind through their shapes, textures, and colours, in a creative embrace. Her imagination unfolds in the materiality of forms, while traces of her thoughts trickle into the various materials, treatments, textures, and techniques employed in the process. Keja-Planken aspires to make the viewer a part of her human-centric, sustainable design works that stimulate the imagination. The designs contributing to her Ode la Mar collection all appear to be constantly morphing, or on the move, taking cues from natural forms that animate the sea bed. Her pieces are built by hand-painting, collaging, and implementing 3D techniques for the base forms, and translating these with passementerie, weaving and glass blowing into her handmade yarn landscapes, tapestry landscapes, and glass work. The tapestries and rug designs are made out of materials such as eucalyptus, bamboo yarn, deadstock, and recycled clothing.
The sustainability landscape as well as the reminiscent visions of Keja-Planken implore observers to delve deep, into encountering their own awareness. Through each collaboration, the product designer dissects new worldly aspects and her responses to them. With Ode la Mar, the designer depicts how the state of mind shifts constantly, akin to forces of nature, accepting nature as the teacher it is. Her vivid entities invite you to engage rather than just look at them; ultimately, her 'little omens as nature, universe and life forms,' are an appeal for “open-mindedness, sensory play and looking forward. They are meant to be hopeful,” the designer concludes.